Spotlight: Shaun Low on Using Games to Tackle Learning Difficulties
Today, as part of our Spotlight series, we have another Grand Prize Winner from our Showcase Contest – Shaun Low. He has been with us for almost two years and even started another project recently. The impact he has on his students is truly life-changing and he wanted to share his practice with us.
The Interview with Shaun Low
FastComet: Glad to have you under the spotlight, Shaun. Can you start with a quick introduction of yourself and your work?
Shaun Low: I am an educational therapist who runs his own private therapy practice, called Swords & Stationery. My line of work primarily involves helping kids with learning challenges like dyslexia to develop holistically.
FastComet: What is your website about? How did you start it? Is there an interesting story behind the site?
Shaun Low: Swords & Stationery first started as a blog that advocated the benefits of games and learning. Later on, I left my previous workplace and decided to evolve Swords & Stationery into a full-fledged business. With that, I had to build a website that could encapsulate the spirit of Swords & Stationery, something fun and dynamic. I decided to sign up with FastComet, as I needed a service that was fast and reliable.
FastComet: Who is your primary audience, and how do you target/reach them?
Shaun Low: Children and parents. I reach out to them by perfecting my SEO and participating in communities for parents of kids with learning challenges.
FastComet: Do your students visit your site? How friendly is it for people with learning difficulties like dyslexia and ADHD?
Shaun Low: My students occasionally visit Swords & Stationery’s web store to see what’s new. From time to time, I also do write-ups of students who have done exceptionally well, or who have shown tremendous improvement. These are articles which I encourage them to read.
With regard to how friendly it is for people with learning difficulties, I would say that my site’s pages and blog posts should be reasonably readable. On occasion, I do have posts that are quite lengthy, but I try to write in the active voice as far as possible. I also use bigger fonts with wider spacing between letters. Learning difficulties like dyslexia and ADHD can be hereditary, so I want everybody to have a good experience reading through my articles.
FastComet: What challenges did you face while building the website?
Shaun Low: It was challenging to find a fast and reliable shared web hosting service. Also, I needed to learn things like CSS. One of the toughest things that could happen as an amateur web designer was that the website could also break at any moment due to an update or a bad script. These were just some of the things that affected the site.
FastComet: What does a typical day in your life look like? How do you keep yourself productive?
Shaun Low: It’s pretty much work, work, work. I try to update my site as much as possible with new blog posts. Every now and then I also optimize it further (like increasing the site’s loading speed) for better SEO results.
FastComet: How long have you been with FastComet?
Shaun Low: About 21 months. No regrets.
FastComet: How were you introduced to FastComet? What made you choose us as a hosting partner? How has this decision transformed your business?
Shaun Low: I think it was a forum post that introduced me to FastComet. FastComet has really helped me to increase my site’s loading speed, and to sort things out whenever a technical difficulty arises. Thanks to FastComet’s excellent support, I feel like I don’t have to spend much time on tearing my hair out when something goes wrong.
FastComet: What’s been the most exciting part of the journey so far?
Shaun Low: The initial stage, when I had to build up my site. That was rough and full of uncertainties, but exciting.
FastComet: Generally, what do you look for in a web host? What were your hosting challenges before moving to FastComet?
Shaun Low: I generally go for a service with fast and reliable customer support, and good speeds; a reasonable price helps too. One of the challenges faced before I signed up with FastComet was the hosting speed.
FastComet: Have we lived up to your expectations? What do you think of the quality of the services we offer?
Shaun Low: FastComet has more than lived up to my expectations. It’s just superb in nearly every way. The only thing that I feel could be improved on is that the SpeedUp package isn’t as fast as I thought it would be.
FastComet: What has been your experience with FastComet support team?
Shaun Low: Fantastic. It’s perfect.
FastComet: How has the design of your website impacted the number of call-ups that you get every month?
Shaun Low: Having a solid, user-friendly interface has definitely helped with the number of monthly call-ups that I get. There’s a strong correlation between good web design and how inclined potential clients are to contact me. I believe that having a site that looks good without being overly flashy indicates that I take pride in what I do, which is true! I really enjoy helping each and every one of the kids under my tutelage. In that sense, I think that message is also translated for potential clients when they stumble across my site for the first time.
FastComet: You have a dual business model—on the one hand, you help students with learning difficulties, and on the other, you have a web store where you sell games and books. What challenges have you come across when running this business, and how did you manage to overcome them?
Shaun Low: It might seem like two completely misaligned business models at first glance. Indeed, at the initial stages of Swords & Stationery’s conception, I had a lot of trouble trying to merge the two, mainly when it came to the gaming side of things. It also confused a lot of people who called up to inquire about S&S’s services. Parents who wanted to know more about S&S’s educational therapy program didn’t know how the web store tied into the former, while gamers saw S&S more like a friendly local game store (FLGS).
Eventually, I realized that there was no way I could do both simultaneously with equal focus. One had to be a primary model, while the other had to take on a supporting role. Thus, I decided to double down on Swords & Stationery’s branding as a leading, avant-garde educational therapy program. With the gaming side being more for kids than members of the public (though many still come to S&S to play). Later on, in 2018, I also brought in certain lines of gaming and hobby products (e.g., Warhammer and DUST 1947) that could amplify the benefits of the educational therapy program. Miniature model painting, for instance, is instrumental in helping kids with ADHD to calm down. In this way, the two business models would organically converge, and with a tighter focus, people had a much clearer idea of what S&S was about.
FastComet: We understand that Swords & Stationery is currently a one-man show. How do you juggle maintaining the site while working on other aspects like conducting therapy sessions for the children?
Shaun Low: Time is always a limited resource, so my priorities are ever-changing. It helps to plan the things that I have to do for my therapy sessions, potential site/web store updates, curriculum resources, etc.e though sometimes the unexpected happens. As a matter of fact, it used to be that the site would break once every two months on average (give or take), either due to a plugin update or me doing something silly. Thankfully, FastComet’s support has been swift and efficient in helping me to resolve most of my issues, often within a few hours.
I once crashed the entire backend, but luckily was able to retrieve everything within an hour with the help of FastComet’s support staff. There were times when I’d think, “Hmm, I’m sure there will come a day when I mess something up real bad, and then they won’t be able to help me anymore.” But that day hasn’t come yet (and I doubt it ever will, given how speedy FastComet has been in helping me solve pretty major problems).
FastComet: Lastly, If you had one piece of advice for someone just starting out, what would it be?
Shaun Low: Plan out every little thing about your business, including your finances and your website’s layout.
Share Your Success with FastComet
We want to thank Shaun, for his participation in our contest and providing an insight into the therapeutic practices for individuals with Specific Learning Difficulties. If you also want to show the world your website, business, and passion plus how FastComet assisted you, please let us know.
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